What university students imagine when they hear Erasmus is a semester spent at a university abroad, travelling around the country and meeting new people. This is what the students of the University of Pardubice hoped to do when they went on their Erasmus stays in January, having no idea at that time how coronavirus would interfere with their plans.
“No way did I imagine a semester like that. When I went to Greece, coronavirus was already on the agenda, but I did not imagine an outcome like the actual one,” says Veronika Pávová, one of such students. Students had only a few weeks to enjoy their host country before the outbreak of the epidemic, which prevented them both from travelling and studying.
SEEING THE ALPS AND THAT’S IT
“In mid-February I went to the Alps. At that time, no one knew that was the actual epicenter,” says Vojtěch Dyntera of the Faculty of Transport. His Erasmus stay was in Italy, but he spent most of the time locked in a flat. Even though the situation in Italy was difficult, he decided to stay there to prevent the two-week quarantine at his parents’ place. “I did not want to expose my parents to any risk,” explains Vojtěch.
Erasmus in the Times of Coronavirus
Another student who decided not to come back was Petr Jelínek, one of the reasons being the fact that there was a lot of uncertainty as to how the semester would continue. “In the Czech Republic, I would have to join classes in mid-semester, which I wanted to avoid. Moreover, there was a risk that we would need to return the financial support,” says Petr, who is in Turkey.
After the outbreak, the students basically did not go to the university, since the classes went online.
“I could only leave my home to do the shopping, and I needed a self-certification form, which I had to produce at a police checkpoint,” explains Vojtěch Dyntera.
The students have already sat for them exams online, but they are still abroad and wait to be able to come home. “Our city is locked and we are not allowed to leave it. I did have a chance to fly back home, but I could not get to the airport,” says Petr Jelínek. I want to use the remaining days to get to know the city a little bit.
International students who have come to the Czech Republic share the feelings of their Czech peers abroad. “I was indeed worried when leaving for the Czech Republic, but I was told that I was not heading to China, so all would be fine,” says Liubov Kudlai from Ukraine. After the outbreak, she wanted to go home, but she thought it unsafe to spend time at the airport. “I felt more comfortable staying in Pardubice, a small and pleasant city, where I felt safe,” adds Liubov.
She devoted the time she was forced to spend in her flat to on-line study and doing exercise, and now she uses the chance to get to know the surroundings. “I go to the Na Špici park and to cafés, which I could not do before,” says Liubov. She also plans to get on a train and visit other places. “I will be heading home soon and it would be a pity not to get to know such a lovely country as the Czech Republic is,” says Liubov.